In comments made this week at a global board meeting, Volkswagen CEO Herbet Diess said that VW needs to undergo a major shift from “being a manufacturer of traditional vehicles to making self-driving and connected cars” like Tesla.
It appears Diess is, unlike some other legacy automaker CEO’s (Toyota), taking the threat from Tesla seriously, commenting that VW is facing its most difficult challenge ever.
To avoid becoming another Nokia, which was once the world leader in mobile phones but did not keep up with Apple and lost huge market share, Diess said that VW must focus on its strengths, and not be afraid to let go of those things that are an obstacle to increasing its assets, slashing its costs, and expanding their product lineup to include connected cars like Tesla’s.
But Diess appears to realize that Tesla already has such a huge lead over everyone else when it comes to fuel cells and batteries, that they will be cutting resources allocated to those programs for at least another decade.
“The era of the classic carmakers is over,” Diess said. “The big questions is: Are we fast enough [to clean up combustion engines and develop zero-emission electric vehicles]? If we continue at our current speed, it is going to be very tough.”